Memorial Day Weekend: Chicago Driving Distance Destinations
The long Memorial Day Weekend is the perfect time to pack your things, fill up your gas tank, and get away. If you live in Chicago, you’re lucky to live within driving distance of some of the country’s most beautiful destinations – and perfect spots to spend your Memorial Day weekend getaway. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast, history buff, beer connoisseur, foodie, or photographer, there’s a destination for you within driving distance of Chicago, Illinois.
Just 90 miles southwest of Chicago, Ottawa, Illinois is the perfect driving distance destination for your Memorial Day weekend getaway. Ottawa is known as the entryway to Starved Rock State Park, which contains trails and camping among its beautiful waterfalls, bluffs, and foliage. Though you’re only an hour and a half drive away, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles away from the bustling streets of Chicago.
If Starved Rock State Park is too crowded for you on this busy holiday weekend, check out the town of Ottawa itself and the neighboring Buffalo Rock State Park, which boasts all of the beauty of Starved Rock, minus the crowds. Ottawa, Illinois sits at the intersection of the Illinois River and the Fox River, and has a vibrant waterside food and drink scene. Whether you’re outdoorsy and love camping or you’re a history buff who wants to stay at the historic Starved Rock Lodge, Ottawa, Illinois is the perfect driving-distance destination for your Memorial Day weekend getaway.
At three hours west of Chicago, Galena, Illinois is a little bit further away than Ottawa. However, if you get up early and make good time, you’ll be rewarded with the cobblestone streets and historic mansions of the Illinois village that made TripAdvisor’s “Top 10 Charming Small Towns” list. Galena is full of beautiful landscapes and historical sites including General Ulysses S. Grant’s home and Horseshoe Mound, which offers stunning views of three states. If you love history, Galena, Illinois is the perfect Memorial Day weekend getaway for you.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
If you don’t mind driving a little further and really want to get away this Memorial Day weekend, head to Mackinac Island, Michigan. The island, which is about a six hour drive from Chicago, offers a true escape with its carless streets, charming downtown, beautiful beaches, and historical mansions and inns. Mackinac Island is nestled between the Upper Peninsula and the northern tip of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, and is the perfect, most picturesque place to welcome summer. Don’t forget to check out Mackinac Island State Park and Fort Mackinac, established in the late 18th century, during your Memorial Day weekend getaway.
New Glarus, Wisconsin
What if you could get away to a quaint town in the Swiss Alps for the weekend? Unfortunately, Switzerland isn’t within driving distance. However, New Glarus, Wisconsin – the next best thing – is. The town known affectionately as “America’s Little Switzerland” is just a three-hour drive from Chicago, but will feel worlds away. There are no mountains, but there are lots of Swiss chalets, fondue, and beer to make you feel like you’re there. For those who love travel and learning about new cultures, New Glarus, Wisconsin has something for you too. There are tons of programs, food, and drink that embody the culture of the Swiss.
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